Weepy ballads, strummy guitars and the occasional out-of-tune dud. But where are the buzzers?

No 5 • X Factor Malta

Judges Ray Mercieca, Alexandra Alden, Ben Camille, Ira Losco, and Howard Keith Debono
Judges Ray Mercieca, Alexandra Alden, Ben Camille, Ira Losco, and Howard Keith Debono

What are we skinning? X-Factor Malta, which has just ushered in its second season.

Why are we skinning it? Because it’s X-Factor Malta which, like McDonalds and Pizza Hut, makes it an unfortunately successful and attention-grabbing extension of a global franchise on our shores.

But is it fun to watch? I suppose it’s fun to observe how each of the judges have doubled down on their predetermined archetypes, and are comfy in the one-dimensional burrows they’ve built for themselves.

You’re right, actually. Which one’s your favourite? Oh, it has to be the accidental Cockney-chappie perfection of Ray Mercieca; hat, shades and all – a character (!) that only a post-war, post-colonial Malta would have to invent, if he didn’t exist already.

Luckily for you, he does! And what do you make of Howard Keith Debono face-stabbing himself throughout the show? That pen is too bright for TV. It draws too much attention to himself. The stabbing is probably down to him having to sustain the Simon Cowell ala Maltese schtick through the episode’s unholy running time.

But what about the contestants? Weepy ballads, strummy guitars and the occasional out-of-tune dud. Wasn’t this show supposed to have buzzers? It would have jolted me awake, at least.

So you don’t think Malta’s got talent? Don’t give them any more excuses for further cynical franchises. But yes, the dreadlocked girl did pretty well, and the ukelele guy got too much flak for a ‘stiff’ facial expression that was actually all about that focused earnestness.

Do say: “While an artist’s trajectory should never be determined through a televised competition that’s an offshoot of a global corporate franchise, it’s good to see earnest feedback being doled out to young and not-so-young hopefuls, and that some kind of musical standard is being set on the island while the entire population apparently looks on.”

Don’t say: “The image of Alexandra Alden being ‘tickled by feathers’ arouses more horror than amusement, and we demand it be erased from our collective memories through a government-funded lobotomising operation.”

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